Monday, February 20, 2012

The Story behind the song "What a Friend We Have in Jesus"

Irish born Joseph M. Scriven (1819-1896) was 25 years old, in love and to be married. The day before his wedding his fiance died in a tragic drowning accident. Heartbroken, Joseph sailed from his homeland to start a new life in Canada. While in Canada working as a teacher, he fell in love again and became engaged to Eliza Roche, a relative of one of his students. Once again, Joseph's hopes and dreams were shattered when Eliza became ill and died before the wedding could take place.

Although one can only imagine the turmoil within this young man, history tells us that his faith in God sustained him Soon after Eliza's death Joseph joined the Plymouth Brethren and began preaching for a Baptist church. He never married, but spent the remainder of his life giving all his time, money and even the clothes off his own back to help the less fortunate and to spread the love and compassion of Jesus wherever he went.

Around the same time that Eliza died, Joseph received word from Ireland that his mother was ill. He could not go to be with her, so he wrote a letter of comfort and enclosed one of his poems entitled What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

Many years later a friend was sitting with Joseph, as he was very ill. During this visit, the friend was very impressed when he ran across his poems, including What a Friend We Have in Jesus. As a result of this visit, almost 30 years after his letter of comfort to his mother, Joseph's poems were published in a book called Hymns and Other Verses. Soon thereafter, noted musician Charles C. Converse (1834-1918) put music to one of those poems: What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Well-known musician and revivalist Ira D. Sankey (1840-1908) was a
great admirer of Joseph Scriven. In 1875, Sankey came upon the music and words for What a Friend We Have in Jesus. He included it as the last entry into his well-known publication Sankey's Gospel Hymns Number 1.

After Joseph Scriven's death, the citizens of Port Hope, Ontario, Canada, where he gave so much of himself, erected a monument to his life. The seemingly sad and obscure life of one man resulted in so many lives being uplifted, both in his own time, and for many years after whenever the beautiful and comforting words of What a Friend We Have in Jesus are sung.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Empowerment of the Holy Spirit

It is more than a slogan or a theme; It is a divine promise

It is not a theory or an option; It is an absolute necessity

It is not a theological problem; It is the divine solution to the spiritual needs of our generation and the only power than can break satanic bondage.

There is no substitute or option for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

(Author unknown)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Worship which costs us nothing benefits us nothing!!

The Book of Malachi is the final book of the Old Testament. The core values in the Book of Malachi are relevant for us today. Many times in this writing, the prophet uses a negative reality to emphasize a positive core value and then presents it as an available possibility. The Israelites, in Malachi’s day did not live up to the standards set by God. Chapter 2 is full of accusations against their hypocrisy, treachery in the home, violations of temple regulations, marrying people who worshiped foreign gods, divorce, and false teachings. The entire nation dishonoured God.

After returning from Persian exile and experiencing an initial revival of temple worship and righteous living, the Israelites grew apathetic and complacent. Shortcuts were being taken. Inappropriate offering were being offered as sacrifices unto God. The priests were taking bribes from the people, and family relationships had been compromised. While on the surface things generally seem OK, on the inside a cancer of complacency is eating away at the Israelites commitment. The Prophet Malachi is sent by God to call the people back to fidelity (Malachi 2:13-16).

Just like the Israelites, almost without realizing it, any one of us can slip into showing contempt for God's name through offering only what is second best and allowing our worship to become apathetic. Worship which costs us nothing benefits us nothing. Particularly in tough times, we can find ourselves just going through the motions and for our hearts to be cold as stone. It‟s all too easy to say 'Do I have to give up my Sunday's to go to church?' Do I have to give up my time to help with this group or serve in this way? Why should I?

I love what King David says concerning worship/offering. In II Samuel 24 and in I Chronicles 21, we find parallel versions of the same story. In verse 24 of each chapter, King David makes the statement, “I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which cost me nothing.” When King David spoke this to Araunah, I believe it reflects what worship means to King David. Let us examine the offerings and worship that we bring to Jesus. Let us not give that which is heartless and meaningless, but let us give our all to Him.

Be Blessed.